Neologisms of the >On-the-pattern-of< Type: Analogy as a Word-formation Process?


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Analogy has been of profound interest to scholars since classical antiquity. In language study it is a well-known and universally acknowledged factor in
shaping language and its development, which has been examined from both a diachronic and synchronic perspective. It is traditionally associated with change in morphonology, morphology, and syntax (where analogy forms the basis of rule reinterpretation). It has been discussed in the pre-structuralist era, as in Junggrammatiker Paul’s Prinzipien der Sprachgeschichte (1880, chapter 5), by structuralists – de Saussure devotes two chapters to it in the third part on diachronic linguistics of his Cours (1916), Trnka explores this subject in his paper About Analogy in Structural Linguistics (1936/1982) – as well as by generativists (Aronoff –Fudeman, 2004, 87– 8). An oft-quoted account is provided by Hock (1986/1991, 167–237). He distinguishes two main types of analogy (apart from analogy as a factor in sound change): analogical levelling (›paradigmatic‹ levelling), or the reduction or elimination of morphophonemic alternation within a morphological paradigm, and proportional analogy, in which a regularity is carried over to irregular forms according to the formula A:A’ = B:X. He mentions three areas in which proportional analogy operates, morphology,orthography and word formation, i. e. creation of neologisms (xeroxing), which is of primary importance to us here. According to Hock, proportional analogy may also combine with morphological reanalysis as in Hamburger where ›from Hamburg‹ was reanalyzed as ›from ham‹, thus making way for analogized forms such as cheeseburger, turkey burger. While individual examples like hamburger > cheeseburger are clearly indicative of analogy at work, it is difficult to get a full idea of analogy at work on the basis of a few scattered instances. The present study makes use of the opportunity provided by electronic dictionaries to search through the etymology section of entry articles. It so happens that if an electronic dictionary such as the COD carefully and consistently enough describes the etymology of the headwords, a relatively large sample of what the compilers apparently consider analogized creations can be gathered.
Also there seems to be a certain disparity between this relatively large number of neologisms whose origin is ascribed to analogy and the fact that authors of
standard descriptions of contemporary English word-formation, such as Bauer (1983) and Plag (2002), give only a passing mention to its role in vocabulary
expansion in English. Therefore we decided to examine the copious electronic dictionary data to see whether it could throw up some new aspects of analogy
and show some other patterns beyond the much quoted example of cheeseburger on the model of hamburger.


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